Dr. Roy Spencer's Ill Considered Comments on Citizen Science

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Over at Roy Spencer’s usually excellent blog, Roy has published what could be called a hatchet job on “citizen climate scientists” in general and me in particular.  Now, Dr. Roy has long been a hero of mine, because of all his excellent scientific work … which is why his attack mystifies me.  Maybe he simply had a bad day and I was the focus of frustration, we all have days like that. Anthony tells me he can’t answer half of the email he gets some days, Dr. Roy apparently gets quite a lot of mail too, asking for comment.

Dr. Roy posted a number of uncited and unreferenced claims in his essay. So, I thought I’d give him the chance to provide data and citations to back up those claims. He opens with this graphic:

roy spencer homer simpson climate scientistDr. Roy, the citizen climate scientists are the ones who have made the overwhelming majority of the gains in the struggle against rampant climate alarmism. It is people like Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts and Donna LaFramboise and myself and Joanne Nova and Warwick Hughes and the late John Daly, citizen climate scientists all, who did the work that your fellow mainstream climate scientists either neglected or refused to do. You should be showering us with thanks for doing the work your peers didn’t get done, not speciously claiming that we are likeable idiots like Homer Simpson.

Dr. Roy begins his text by saying:

I’ve been asked to comment on Willis Eschenbach’s recent analysis of CERES radiative budget data (e.g., here). Willis likes to analyze data, which I applaud. But sometimes Willis gives the impression that his analysis of the data (or his climate regulation theory) is original, which is far from the case.

Hundreds of researchers have devoted their careers to understanding the climate system, including analyzing data from the ERBE and CERES satellite missions that measure the Earth’s radiative energy budget. Those data have been sliced and diced every which way, including being compared to surface temperatures (as Willis recently did).

So, Roy’s claim seems to be that my work couldn’t possibly be original, because all conceivable analyses of the data have already been done. Now that’s a curious claim in any case … but in this case, somehow, he seems to have omitted the links to the work he says antedates mine.

When someone starts making unreferenced, uncited, unsupported accusations about me like that, there’s only one thing to say … Where’s the beef? Where’s the study? Where’s the data?

In fact, I know of no one who has done a number of the things that I’ve done with the CERES data. If Dr. Roy thinks so, then he needs to provide evidence of that. He needs to show, for example, that someone has analyzed the data in this fashion:

change in cloud radiative effect per one degree goodNow, I’ve never seen any such graphic. I freely admit, as I have before, that maybe the analysis has been done some time in the past, and my research hasn’t turned it up. I did find two studies that were kind of similar, but nothing like that graph above. Dr. Roy certainly  seems to think such an analysis leading to such a graphic exists … if so, I suggest that before he starts slamming me with accusations, he needs to cite the previous graphic that he claims that my graphic is merely repeating.

I say this for two reasons. In addition to it being regular scientific practice to cite your sources, it is common courtesy not to accuse a man of doing something without providing data to back it up.

And finally, if someone has done any of my analyses before, I want to know so I can save myself some time … if the work’s been done, I’m not interested in repeating it. So I ask Dr. Roy: which study have I missed out on that has shown what my graphic above shows?

Dr. Roy then goes on to claim that my ideas about thunderstorms regulating the global climate are not new because of the famous Ramanathan and Collins 1991 paper called “Thermodynamic regulation of ocean warming by cirrus clouds deduced from observations of the 1987 El Niño”. Dr. Roy says:

I’ve previously commented on Willis’ thermostat hypothesis of climate system regulation, which Willis never mentioned was originally put forth by Ramanathan and Collins in a 1991 Nature article.

Well … no, it wasn’t “put forth” in R&C 1991, not even close. Since Dr. Roy didn’t provide a link to the article he accuses me of “never mentioning”, I’ll remedy that, it’s here.

Unfortunately, either Dr. Roy doesn’t fully understand what R&C 1991 said, or he doesn’t fully understand what I’ve said. This is the Ramanathan and Collins hypothesis as expressed in their abstract:

Observations made during the 1987 El Niño show that in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature at a rate which exceeds the rate at which radiation is being emitted from the surface. In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat, shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305K.

Why didn’t I mention R&C 1991 with respect to my hypothesis? Well … because it’s very different from my hypothesis, root and branch.

•  Their hypothesis was that cirrus clouds act as a thermostat to regulate maximum temperatures in the “Pacific Warm Pool” via a highly localized “super greenhouse effect”.

•  My hypothesis is that thunderstorms act all over the planet as natural emergent air conditioning units, which form over local surface hot spots and (along with other emergent phenomena) cool the surface and regulate the global temperature.

In addition, I fear that Dr. Roy hasn’t done his own research on this particular matter. A quick look on Google shows that I have commented on R&C 1991 before. Back in 2012, in response to Dr. Roy’s same claim (but made by someone else), I wrote:

I disagree that the analysis of thunderstorms as a governing mechanism has been “extensively examined in the literature”. It has scarcely been discussed in the literature at all. The thermostatic mechanism discussed by Ramanathan is quite different from the one I have proposed. In 1991, Ramanathan and Collins said that the albedos of deep convective clouds in the tropics limited the SST … but as far as I know, they didn’t discuss the idea of thunderstorms as a governing mechanism at all.

And regarding the Pacific Warm Pool, I also quoted the Abstract of R&C1991 in this my post on Argo and the Ocean Temperature Maximum. So somebody’s not searching here before making claims …

In any case, I leave it to the reader to decide whether my hypothesis, that emergent phenomena like thunderstorms regulate the climate, was “originally put forth” in the R&C 1991 Nature paper about cirrus clouds, or not …

Finally, Dr. Roy closes with this plea:

Anyway, I applaud Willis, who is a sharp guy, for trying. But now I am asking him (and others): read up on what has been done first, then add to it. Or, show why what was done previously came to the wrong conclusion, or analyzed the data wrong.

That’s what I work at doing.

But don’t assume you have anything new unless you first do some searching of the literature on the subject. True, some of the literature is paywalled. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. And I agree, if research was public-funded, it should also be made publicly available.

First, let me say that I agree with all parts of that plea. I do my best to find out what’s been done before, among other reasons in order to save me time repeating past work.

However, many of my ideas are indeed novel, as are my methods of analysis. I’m the only person I know of, for example, to do graphic cluster analysis on temperature proxies (see “Kill It With Fire“). Now, has someone actually done that kind of analysis before? Not that I’ve seen, but if there is, I’m happy to find that out—it ups the odds that I’m on the right track when that happens. I have no problem with acknowledging past work—as I noted above,  I have previously cited the very R&C 1991 study that Dr. Roy accuses me of ignoring.

Dr. Roy has not given me any examples of other people doing the kind of analysis of the CERES data that I’m doing. All he’s given are claims that someone somewhere did some unspecified thing that he claims I said I thought I’d done first. Oh, plus he’s pointed at, but not linked to, Ramanathan & Collins 1991, which doesn’t have anything to do with my hypothesis.

So all we have are his unsupported claims that my work is not novel.

And you know what? Dr. Roy may well be right. My work may not be novel. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong … but without specific examples, he is just handwaving. All I ask is that he shows this with proper citations.

Dr. Roy goes on to say:

But cloud feedback is a hard enough subject without muddying the waters further. Yes, clouds cool the climate system on average (they raise the planetary albedo, so they reduce solar input into the climate system). But how clouds will change due to warming (cloud feedback) could be another matter entirely. Don’t conflate the two.

I ask Dr. Roy to please note the title of my graphic above. It shows how the the clouds actually change due to warming. I have not conflated the two in the slightest, and your accusation that I have done so is just like your other accusations—it lacks specifics. Exactly what did I say that makes you think I’m conflating the two? Dr. Roy, I ask of you the simple thing I ask of everyone—if you object to something that I say, please QUOTE MY WORDS, so we can all see what you are talking about.

Dr. Roy continues:

For instance, let’s say “global warming” occurs, which should then increase surface evaporation, leading to more convective overturning of the atmosphere and precipitation. But if you increase clouds in one area with more upward motion and precipitation, you tend to decrease clouds elsewhere with sinking motion. It’s called mass continuity…you can’t have rising air in one region without sinking air elsewhere to complete the circulation. “Nature abhors a vacuum”.

Not true. For example, if thunderstorms alone are not sufficient to stop an area-wide temperature rise, a new emergent phenomenon arises. The thunderstorms will self-assemble into “squall lines”. These are long lines of massed thunderstorms, with long canyons of rising air between them. In part this happens because it allows for a more dense packing of thunderstorms, due to increased circulation efficiency. So your claim above, that an increase of clouds in one area means a decrease in another area, is strongly falsified by the emergence of squall lines.

In addition, you’ve failed to consider the timing of onset of the phenomena. A change of ten minutes in the average formation time of tropical cumulus makes a very large difference in net downwelling radiation … so yes, contrary to your claim, I’ve just listed two ways the clouds can indeed increase in one area without a decrease in another area.

So, examining how clouds and temperatures vary together locally (as Willis has done) really doesn’t tell you anything about feedbacks. Feedbacks only make sense over entire atmospheric circulation systems, which are ill-defined (except in the global average).

Mmm … well, to start with, these are not simple “feedbacks”. I say that clouds are among the emergent thermoregulatory phenomena that keep the earth’s temperature within bounds. The system acts, not as a simple feedback, but as a governor. What’s the difference?

  • A simple feedback moves the result in a certain direction (positive or negative) with a fixed feedback factor. It is the value of this feedback factor that people argue about, the cloud feedback factor … I say that is meaningless, because what we’re looking at is not a feedback like that at all.
  • A governor, on the other hand, uses feedback to move the result towards some set-point, by utilizing a variable feedback factor.

In short, feedback acts in one direction by a fixed amount. A governor, on the other hand, acts to restore the result to the set-point by varying the feedback. The system of emergent phenomena on the planet is a governor. It does not resemble simple feedback in the slightest.

And the size of those emergent phenomena varies from very small to very large on both spatial and temporal scales. Dust devils arise when a small area of the land gets too hot, for example. They are not a feedback, but a special emergent form which acts as an independent entity with freedom of motion. Dust devils move preferentially to the warmest nearby location, and because they are so good at cooling the earth, like all such mechanisms they have to move and evolve in order to persist. Typically they live for some seconds to minutes and then disappear. That’s an emergent phenomenon cooling the surface at the small end of the time and distance scales.

From there, the scales increase from local (cumulus clouds and thunderstorms) to area-wide (cyclones, grouping of thunderstorms into “squall lines”) to regional and multiannual (El Nino/La Nina Equator-To-Poles warm water pump) to half the planet and tens of years (Pacific Decadal Oscillation).

So I strongly dispute Dr. Roy’s idea that “feedbacks only make sense over entire atmospheric circulation systems”. To start with, they’re not feedbacks, they are emergent phenomena … and they have a huge effect on the regulation of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales.

And I also strongly dispute his claim that my hypothesis is not novel, the idea that thunderstorms and other emergent climate phenomena work in concert planet-wide to maintain the temperature of the earth within narrow bounds.

Like I said, Dr. Roy is one of my heroes, and I’m mystified by his attack on citizen scientists in general, and on me in particular. Yes, I’ve said that I thought that some of my research has been novel and original. Much of it is certainly original, in that I don’t know of anyone else who has done the work in that way, so the ideas are my own.

However, it just as certainly may not be novel. There’s nothing new under the sun. My point is that I don’t know of anyone advancing this hypothesis, the claim that emergent phenomena regulate the temperature and that forcing has little to do with it.

If Dr. Roy thinks my ideas are not new, I’m more than willing to look at any citations he brings to the table. As far as I’m concerned they would be support for my hypothesis, so I invite him to either back it up or back it off.

Best regards to all.


UPDATE: Dr. Spencer has responded here – Anthony


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Willis, as I noted on Dr. Roy’s blog, I like your work.
I read his article as commending you for your effort but look before you leap because it may have already been done. I didn’t see any personal attack on you whatsoever.
Your work is important Willis because it causes excellent dialog.


Well, the comments should be interesting…


Everyone breaks, but how they break is different case to case.
With you on this,W. Very well put.


Pity it entered the public arena whoever started it. May be best to have a private conversation with Roy asap, Willis.

M Courtney

Let’s try and keep it civil.
The one advantage that professional scientists have is access to the academic libraries that lets one be more assured of one’s originality. The internet has weakened that advantage.
But the change is not complete.
Both sides may have something of value to say here without falling into partisan flame fights.


Does it really take that many words to get the idea across?


You can tell something is going on because he used Homer the Citizen vs Homer the “Scientist”.


BBould says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm
It’s easier now than ever to “look before leaping” by searching the literature on line, to avoid reinventing the wheel or an analysis. Citizen scientists can & have done valuable original research & analysis, including those in the climate field cited by Willis above.


If the world’s ocean turns out to be too shallow to harbor Trenberth’s missing heat, it may very well next be asserted to be hiding in the unfathomable depths of Willis Eschenbach’s ego.

Ronald Voisin

Willis, you’re way overreacting.


He sounds just like the rest now.
The problem with “The Science” is that it’s only just poor communication of the excellent work, you see – because they are not professional communicators.
I think Dr. Roy can qualify to be funded by Fenton now!
“Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”

Lew Skannen

Willis stuff may not all be entirely original but for most of us he is the one who got it out there onto the web. If Joe Schlubb thinks that it is all Willis’ original work then I don’t see any great harm done but given the amount of stuff referenced in Willis’ articles I am surprised that anyone would come to that conclusion.

Joe Crawford

Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.

Tom G(ologist)

Gentlemen. We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
B. Franklin

Paul Penrose

While I have not always agreed with everything you have written, I have never found you to be lazy or inept as Dr. Spencer seems to be implying. Since the good doctor felt it appropriate to criticize you in public, I have no problem with you defending yourself in kind; in fact I believe it is your right. Cheers to Anthony for allowing you to do so. To those out there that object, who never put their names and reputations on the line by publishing their thoughts and ideas online, I say: your words have no credibility until you walk that lonely road.

John A

Dr Spencer appears to be calling Willis either unoriginal or a plagiarist. As Carl Sagan was wont to say “Extraordinary claims..”

M Courtney

Can we avoid picking sides in comments that are fewer than 7 paragraphs long?
This isn’t a simple “he is good and he is bad” issue.
This is about a fundamental change on the search for knowledge.
The opportunity for amateurs to have the same access to evidence as professionals (due to the internet) removes the barriers to entry into the science market.
And yet it also removes the institutional quality control standards.
Willis admits he is willing to be wrong in the haste to new ideas and understanding. Mistakes and Sesame Street are how we learn. He is not so arrogant as to be afraid to be publically wrong. Better mistaken once than never gaining any new knowledge – if you are willing to be corrected.
But that is a big rupture with the dignified and private establishment of science that has allowed scientists to gain such prestige in the modern world.
And the old guard aren’t necessarily wrong because they are the establishment, hippies.


Timely comment from straight thinking, Paul Penrose.
I’m fascinated by Roy’s us eof Homer the Scientist being led away in cuffs.
That was Homer the Activist!
What’s up with Dr. Roy?


Willis, we love you

Nigel S

This seems a real shame. Couldn’t you just settle it over a beer?

M Courtney

Joe Crawford says at October 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. “Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.”

That has the ring of truth. There are commitments made in academia that cannot be ignored, rightly.

Peter Champness

When it comes to the Thunderstorm Refrigerator Hypothesis I READ ABOUT IT HERE FIRST, and it was written by some guy called Willis Eschenbach. What is more it was very well explained, so I could understand it on the first read through, and also peppered with anecdotes about boats and the Pacific Islands, which made it interesting and kept me reading right through to the end.


““Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”
This sounds plagiarized. From RealClimate. Or Mrs Hot Whopper?


Given the choice of persons playing the roles of Homer the Scientist and Homer the Citizen, I give more credence to the latter.

Good on you, Willis. It’s important not to let such accusations slide. As Dr Roy raised the issue, he should most certainly cite references, or man up and apologize and then back off. It sounds to me like he did not read your work but dismissed it out of hand, which is shabby to say the least.
@ M Courtney, there is nothing uncivil here. Willis has done some amazing work that took a lot of time and effort. Roy has claimed Willis’s work is not new. This should be discussed, not ignored.
It’s always the “citizen climate scientist” who is told to compromise, always the skeptic who is told to “play fair” and go sit quietly in the corner and not to make a ruckus. Well, this side has always played fair, always listened to the other side and always weighed the evidence. Willis has a valid complaint here and he is right to voice his objection.
Dr Roy should pull out those references if he wants to be taken seriously in his claim. Otherwise, he is just attacking the man. This is not scientific. “Both sides have something to say here” doesn’t hold water. Dr Roy may have something of value to say in this issue, but so far he hasn’t said it, and Willis is correctly inviting him to do just that.

I like the cartoon of the Professional Climate Scientist.
Maybe he had his tongue in his cheek too! Just sayin’ (Though it’s hard to write with a tongue in your cheek…)


I believe that the internet has turned the orthodoxy, the keepers of the orthodoxy, and their funders on their heads, very much the way the printing press and books in the vernacular did. I suspect that at his point establishment researchers feel very threatened.
Willisi’s work would not have seen the light of day without the internet.
The internet has also shined a light into the goings on in the climate science / government complex.
I suspect there will be a lot of road kill on the information highway.


I’m sure that other people have done the work Willis has on the CERES data.
However having done the work is not the same as having published it. It’s quite possible they didn’t like the answer they got.
Climate science is full of people knowing information and then keeping it very quiet. If it wasn’t then WUWT and CA etc wouldn’t be needed.


“Since the good doctor felt it appropriate to criticize you in public, I have no problem with you defending yourself in kind; in fact I believe it is your right”
I agree with the above.. so keep up your reseach Willis, you are making a huge difference to the entire climate discussion.
I think there might be some academic egos being upset by your original work, and that is normal, but unfortunately painful.


I also enjoy and respect all your work Willis. I really like the emergent phenomena idea. It really makes sense to me.
I have to add that I respect Dr. Roy also, but think he crossed a line here.
Let’s try to keep this about trying to find the truth.


“Muir soon became convinced that glaciers had sculpted many of the features of the valley and surrounding area. This notion was in stark contradiction to the accepted contemporary theory, promulgated by Josiah Whitney (head of the California Geological Survey), which attributed the formation of the valley to a catastrophic earthquake.” From Wiki on John Muir.
One was a citizen geologist the other professional geologist. Guess which one was correct.
Both gents put forth valuable ideas and information for us to feast on.
I second Tom G(ologist).

Mark Bofill

Well, my two cents probably aren’t worth two cents. Here they are anyway.
I don’t know (or much care) if Willis’s ideas have been covered elsewhere in the literature; I haven’t read but a bare handful of climate related papers in my life. Willis asking Dr. Spencer to particularize seems reasonable to me, but still I don’t much care one way or the other. The point is, the ideas are new to me.
In virtually every other area of science (excepting my profession), I’m perfectly content to take career scientists at their word. For reasons well known to the folks here, climate science isn’t a good area to take this approach in. Too many scientivists out there, too much of an agenda, way too much spin.
Dr. Spencer seems to me to be suggesting, when I think it though, that I do the one of the following: go be a PhD, spend your time studying papers until you’ve become expert on what’s already out there, or sit down and shush. Well, sorry. I’m not doing that. I care enough about the issue to try to follow along, to try to grasp as much of the science as I can follow. Heck I’m even willing to crack my old math textbooks once in a while, or read and practice maths I don’t generally use from time to time. But between the evils, I’d rather stumble along, knowing perfectly well that people have studied this material in greater depth and sophistication than I can possibly appreciate, I’d rather stumble along and try to understand for myself than close my eyes and follow blindly. Nor do I have the slightest intention of devoting my life to the study of climate; I’ve got other priorities. I’m sure that means I’ll step on tons of well trod sopohmoric land mines along the way. I’ll live with that.
Obviously Dr. Spencer didn’t make the scientivist mess and political circus we suffer from in this field. Clearly he suffers due to this fact more than most, certainly more than I do. But, no, I’m not going to pursue a PhD in climate change, and no, I’m not going to sit down and shut up.

Lady Life Grows

Willis, I am sure you will read all the comments, so I get to tell you that I tried breathing out after your post on that. It caused me to inhale deeply and I coughed up a storm. I have continued to do this a few minutes every day. I have mild (unmedicated) asthma, and I have been breathing a little better ever since. My stamina is a bit improved as well.
As for you, Dr. Roy Spencer, I have one of your books and you are one of my heroes, too. I bet you take this post to heart and become an even better scientist.
And as for you, Mister Anthony Watts, you have created a science blog that is more scientific in nature than many scientific journals–especially some of the “old gray mares” that “ain’t what they used ta be.” Those of us horrified at the trashing of science by the Church of Global Warming can take comfort here.


I used to enjoy Willis’ posts, but it’s getting too much. This blog is getting to be less of Watts Up With That? and too much of What’s up with Willis !…

A. Scott

Willis … you said:
“And you know what? Dr. Roy may well be right. My work may not be novel. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong … but without specific examples, he is just handwaving. ”
I say it doesn’t matter if its been done in some fashion before. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing work that has been done before. Sometimes doing so may find something new, but its is just as valuable to have someone like you walk thru the process and attempt to explain it – in a way that many can follow, discuss and contribute to.
Roy is simply wrong. It doesn’t matter if the work has been discussed before. There are numerous positive benefits to a new look – especially with a “crowd sourced” discussion along with it.
I don’t always agree with you, but I always learn from and am both challenged by and benefit from
your work.


yeah right….like Spencer only posts “new” stuff on his blog….
New, old…don’t matter
Who’s got the time to dig all this crap out..
Thanks to bloggers like Willis, JTF, and on and on…
we are all exposed to material we wouldn’t even know about any other way
It’s a blog Spencer….get over it…sorry it picked a nerve with you

Chip Javert

Not knowing either man, my impression is this conversation should have taken place one-on-one between Roy & Willis (i.e.: a phone call). Roy would appear to draw the foul here because he initiated the public rebuke and (according to Willis) failed to properly research & document his argument, which, ironically, is one of the faults he finds with Willis.
Roy (PhD) should be more supportive of “citizen climate scientists” who, like Willis (no PhD), invest hundreds of hours researching and analyzing the topic.
One absolute certainty learned from this whole CAGW cow pie is citizens should be leery of simply accepting pronouncements from (PhD) scientists. Willis may not have observed all the academic niceties, but he’s behave in a more rigorous and intellectually honest manner than Gore, Mann, Gleick and Hansen (among others).
My comments are not intended to denigrate Roy Spencer – the above is simply my opinion of the public rebuke.

I’m good with turning all climate scientists into “citizen climate scientists” by removing all funding.


What you talking about Willis –
Dr. Roy’s article is not a hatchet job, it is a cautionary tale and a reminder to cite precedent. All he is doing is advocating good science. Don’t be so thin skinned.

David Riser

I don’t think it was an attack. But it does look like he was too busy to do a proper look at what you have done and by dismissing your work in the way he did, he is doing us all a disservice. I am fairly good at research and your work tends to make me do a lot of reading and research. I have not found anything like this in the literature but anyone who has spent a significant amount of time at sea would understand exactly what you are talking about. Thanks Willis, keep up the good work!
David Riser


Joe Crawford says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.
Got to say, that was my first thought when reading Dr Spencer’s curious post.
Without speculating further on that, or on any merits of his argument, I’m not happy to see an otherwise respected scientist launch an ad hominem attack like this – and the cartoon at the start of Dr Spencer’s post alone qualifies it as that to me – for any reason whatsoever.


Well, there are several definitions for ‘original.’ There’s ‘original’ meaning novel and there’s ‘original’ meaning independently derived. And then there’s ‘original’ meaning “a person whose way of thinking is unusual or creative.” That last is you, Willis. The rest is not so important. Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.


“Willis, you’re way overreacting.”
He always does. PLus, I don’t think this is the place. Willis, you’re just not as important as you obviously think you are.
So tiresome.

Rud Istvan

Willis, don’t over react to Dr. Spencer’s over reaction. There is an old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Having researched a number of Climate, energy, and other deeply technical topics (usable nanosurface in Helmholtz double layer capacitors), I can say with certainty that any academic advantage (other than real labs to do new physical experiments, which I had to contract for) is now minimal compared to any citizen willing to learn and research. Everything is on line, and pay walls can be breached with a credit card and a maximum charge of $32 per.
I know for a fact this has a lot of the old science guard upset. Not just those behind the IPCC. In the case of my issued NanoCarbon patents, including the most famous researchers in the US and Europe in that obscure physics/electrochemistry subject, Gogotsi, Frackowiac, and Beguin, at a June 2013 Strasbourg conference where my experimental results scooped them. I caught the same flak about not having read the literature. Thier problem was, I had, it was wrong, and my experimental results proved same. This looks like a very similar case. You must be getting close to something Roy wishes he had thought of, and that is important.
BTW,the closest thing to your thunderstorm thermoregulation idea appears to be Lindzen’s adaptive iris hypothesis published in 2000. I am stunned Roy missed that- more evidence of a bad hair day on his part. But what you have done IMO is flesh out Lindzens idea and provide concrete observational support Lindzen didn’t. Further, IMO, what you are doing with Lindzen’s hypothesis is more important than you may yet realize (but already written up separately for the next book) because it also explains the GCM model overstatement of positive water vapor feedback, especially in the most important upper troposphere. By far the most important positive feedback, by itself explaining over 2/3 of climate model oversensitivity. You also have a concrete explanation for the absence of the tropical troposphere hot spot predicted by CMIP3 and CMIP5. TStorm rain washes out the humidity before it is sufficiently convected to the upper troposphere, and the latent heat from condensation is free to radiate away from TStorm tops. Thermoregulation of both heat and humidity.
Regards. Enjoy your ‘limelight’. Just means you are officially in the major leagues.


I like and respect both Roy Spencer and Willis Eschenbach. Also, I have had direct interaction with each of them in the past, so I am saddened at this situation and I do not intend to take sides.
However, I write to make a point of fact.
Roy Spencer is mistaken when he thinks the work of Ramanathan and Collins (R&C, Nature, 1991) is similar to the work of Willis Eschenbach, and he is also mistaken in his misunderstanding that Willis was unaware of the work of R&C.
A few weeks ago I raised the subject of the R&C Effect in a WUWT thread discussing a Guest Essay from Willis. At September 22, 2013 at 10:40 am I cited, referenced, quoted the Abstract of that paper by R&C, and I explained it. The post is at
In that post I wrote

The R&C Effect can induce a fall in surface temperature when surface heating is increased. And the Eschenbach Effect does that, too.

Subsequently, and in response to Greg Goodman, I posted a more full explanation of the R&C Effect and its great difference from the Eschenbach Effect. That post was at September 22, 2013 at 11:30 am and this is a link to it
In that post I wrote

I point out that the Ramanathan & Collins (R&C) effect induces cirrus not thunderstorms. They argued – initially against much opposition which their finding withstood – that when sea surface temperature reaches 305K the induced evapouration rate is so great that warm air rises to lift evapourated moisture so high that cirrus formation occurs. This cirrus sets the maximum surface temperature by reflecting sunlight so it cannot reach the surface.
The Eschenbach effect raises heat from the surface to high tropospheric altitude where it radiates to space. It starts to operate at temperatures below 305K.
They are very different – and complimentary – mechanisms.

As he normally does in threads discussing his essays, Willis interacted throughout that thread. He made no disagreement of any kind with my posts.
Hence, I am certain that Willis Eschenbach was fully aware both of the R&C Effect and its fundamental difference from his proposed Eschenbach Effect in his recent writings. Clearly, Roy Spencer was in error to have suggested otherwise. Being the gentleman I know him to be, I anticipate a retraction of that assertion.

bit chilly

mcourtney at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/09/dr-roy-spencers-ill-considered-comments-on-citizen-science/#comment-1442036 says
The opportunity for amateurs to have the same access to evidence as professionals (due to the internet) removes the barriers to entry into the science market.
And yet it also removes the institutional quality control standards.
i think the big problem most of us have is with those very same quality control standards.if those quality control “standards” in climate science were actually worth something i doubt this blog would have the readership and views it does. i have made a post over at dr roys blog, i sincerely hope this difference of opinion is resolved amicably,and dr roy can indeed provide the evidence willis asks for to support his conclusions.
i think dr roy has the support of many interested in the debate due to his apparent honesty ,and clarity of presentation,but so does willis . someone has mentioned the willis ego,show me a man without an ego,and in reality i will be looking at a eunuch.man would have achieved little without the ego and arrogance of supreme confidence in his ability.
in my opinion the regular beating many ego,s in the climate science world have received of late is partly responsible for dr roys post.

Susan Corwin

==> how does a citizen scientist in the 21st century nail down the science so others can
    stand on their shoulders
rather than
    stomp on their toes?
Let me suggest a couple of things.
1) I view your work as “crowd sourcing”.
    you haven’t necessarily done the academic article/research
    to sort through the chaff to find the useful information or carry it
    forward to provide substantiation.
=> and you aren’t being paid to do that!
2) There are a large number of folk who technically review the work on WUWT.
    you might ask for (and have a good place to enter) relevant previous
    research/technical article that they are aware of.
Bottom line:
a) folk who are paid and must dot i’s and cross t’s get frustrated with folk who aren’t but who are willing to stand up and publically hypothesize solutions.
=> the non i dotters may have interesting insight, but it isn’t going anywhere solid
b) you might take Dr. Spenser’s comments to heart: how does one solidify the ad-hoc conceptual approaches into a solidly supported (or disproved) theory or knowledge set?
For example: you hypothesize and give anecdotal insight into a possible mechanism for thermal feedback mechanisms in the tropics.
=> what would be the next step to “nail this down”: what experiment, what data, etc?
=> who else has investigated this and what have they found?
Key things:
=> you aren’t being paid to do this which tends to leave it “hanging”, and
=> you might want to take the approach of “crowd sourcing”
    where you coordinate, organize, and articulate the result.
Unfortunately, WordPress would seem to be somewhat of a poor fit for such a research discussion and even the “collaborative work tools” out of IBM, Microsoft, and startups seems to be lacking; blogs are useful but not archival except for the author (until they crash).


Now wait Tom G(ologist)… B. Franklin was just a “citizen scientist”. Toss all he discovered and said, he wasn’t a “professional”.
This rings from one of Densel Washington’s great movies:
“I’m a professional, I’m a professional, I’m a professional … ”
No Dr. Spencer, you are really just a “citizen scientist” too, just one with an unfair, and to me, many times dishonest advantage harbored in the current science community cartel. We all went to much the same universities, took much the same courses, have read much the same science papers and books for decades, the only difference is you got a job getting income from the science monolith.


Willis, as an outsider you are encroaching on the academia’s hallow turf of ‘truth licensing’.


I was really put off when Roy engaged at the end of his testimony to give what seemd a pre- arranged message on his religious leanings.
I would be put off by that were I living in a country as different as Denmark is to Pakistan.
He was supposed to be talking about what Science knows.